Police tell pensioner that displaying such a sign may get him arrested under the much abused Public Order Act
|23rd June 2012
19th June 2012. From bostonstandard.co.uk
Giant Book of Bedtime Stories: Classic Fables, Bible Stories, Nursery Rhymes, Parables and Fairy Stories
A pensioner is planning to stand up for his beliefs by putting an atheist poster in his front window, even though police have advised him not to.
The sign simply states: Religions are fairy stories for adults .
John Richards was
told by policemen that he may face arrest if he put up the sign at his Vauxhall Road home, as it could breach the Public Order Act by supposedly distressing passers by.
But Richards has decided to stand up for his beliefs, and stick the poster up,
saying that such action implies a threat to free speech. He told The Boston Standard:
The police said I could be arrested if somebody complained and said they were insulted, but the sign was up two years ago and nobody
responded or smashed the window.
I am an atheist and I feel people are being misled by religion. I wanted to show people that if they thought they were alone there was at least one other person who thought that.
Update: Police explain how the law works: The complainant is ALWAYS right
23rd June 2012. From National Secular Society
After the story appeared, and the NSS took it up, the Lincolnshire Police issued a statement saying that there was no such police threat to John Richards.
But it did admit that if a complaint was received, an officer would attend and try to
persuade Richards to take the poster down. If he refused - which he said he would -he would be arrested.
Terry Sanderson, president of the National Secular Society, said:
The police response more or less
confirms what Mr Richards is saying - if he insists on exercising free speech in the face of objections from someone who claims to be insulted or offended, then he will be arrested and possibly charged.
This is another example of the
dangerous catch all nature of Section 5 of the Public Order Act and a strong argument for it to be radically changed to remove this threat to free expression.
Update: Christians and atheists unite against the police
See article from christian.org.uk
Simon Calvert, of The Christian Institute, said:
It seems the police again reached for the notoriously over-broad Section 5 of the Public Order Act which outlaws 'insulting words or behaviour'.
Christians who have themselves been on the wrong-end of Section 5 would sympathise strongly with Mr Richards.
It is an intimidating experience for law-abiding people to be told by officers that their beliefs are against the law. Even where no arrest is ever made, it exerts a dangerous chilling effect on free speech.
Risible censors at Argyll and Bute Council banned photos of school diners
|16th June 2012
See article from bbc.co.uk
See also neverseconds.blogspot.co.uk
Argyll and Bute Council are in the news for falling foul of the Streisand Effect, the act of trying to suppress information but simply making it more widespread as a result.
Martha Payne, from Argyll, was writing about her school dinners on
her NeverSeconds blog, taking pictures of them and offering ratings for their nutritional value.
But Argyll and Bute Council banned her from taking photos of her school's food, saying press coverage of the blog had led catering staff to fear for
However, they reckoned without the Streisand Effect, which saw the photo ban make headline news in some of the nation's biggest media organisations and the story spiral into a much bigger one that it ever was before.
forced the local authority to reverse the ban, with the leader issuing a bollox propaganda statement claiming that there was no place for censorship on the council.
||16th June 2012 |
Nothing can be allowed to interfere with the rich commercial backers of the Games. Heaven forbid another firm takes a sliver of the limelight intended for Visa or McDonald's.
article from dailymail.co.uk
British Airways start submitting pre-cut airline versions of their VOD films to the BBFC
|24th May 2012 |
See article from
For reasons unknown, British Airways has started submitting cut versions of films to the film censors of the BBFC.
The films are submitted for a Video on Demand rating and are noted as an Airline Version.
Assuming that the British Airways video
system works on NTSC with the same running times as cinema versions, then the first 3 examples have been pre-cut as follows:
- Journey 2: The Mysterious Island. Pre-cut by 1:02s It received a PG certificate without BBFC cuts. Note that the longer and uncut cinema version was also rated a PG with the same consumer advice: contains mild action adventure
- Salmon Fishing in the Yemen was more illuminating. The Airline Version was pre-cut by 1:23s for a 12 rating (the same as the cinema version) but the cuts resulted in a change of consumer advice. The Cinema Version reads:
Contains one use of strong language and moderate sex references . The Airline Version advice reads: Contains infrequent strong language and moderate sex references.
- The Wrath of Titans. The airline version was
pre-cut by 2:24s. The 12 rating and consumer advice was unchanged from the uncut cinema version.
|24th May 2012
Activists who set themselves up as official Olympics protesters are suspended from Twitter after complaint from London 2012 organisers
article from guardian.co.uk
|16th May |
Nurses have a whinge about video games
See article from
The Royal College of Nursing passed a motion calling for more education and awareness about the risks of children playing adult-rated games. At their annual conference in Harrogate, they claimed exposure to these images could harm children.
Nurses said some products on the market were littered with explicit references to violence, sex and drug-taking.
The nurses cited the case of Anders Behring Breivik, who was said to have trained for the attacks he carried out in Norway last summer by using games such as Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and the World of Warcraft.
|15th May |
Britain condemns Iran for sentence of 25 lashes for cartoonist over innocuous whimsy about a politician
12th May 2012. See article from
Britain has added its condemnation to the unprecedented lashing sentence against Iranian cartoonist Mahmud Shokraye.
He was sentenced to 25 lashes earlier this week over his depiction of conservative lawmaker Ahmad Lotfi Ashtiani as a football
player. Ashtiani is noted for interfering in sports issues.
A British Foreign Office statement said:
Charges should never have been brought at all for this innocuous act, but it is sadly not surprising
given the government has consistently shown such flagrant disregard for its citizens' rights and freedoms.
In an earlier joint statement, a dozen Iran-based websites condemned Shokraye's sentence and warned that it sets a dangerous
precedent. The statement noted that drawing cartoons of politicians, including of Iranian presidents and other top officials, is common in Iran.
15th May 2012. See
article from guardian.co.uk
MP who brought a case against a cartoonist that resulted in a sentence of 25 lashes has withdrawn his complaint after widespread condemnation of the artist's conviction.
Mahmoud Shokraye was found guilty of insulting Ahmad Lotfi Ashtiani, MP for
Arak, in a cartoon he drew of the parliamentarian in Nameye Amir, a city newspaper.
In an unprecedented punishment for an Iranian cartoonist, a media law court in Arak handed down a sentence of 25 lashes, triggering domestic and international
outcry among Shokraye's colleagues and human rights organisations.
Iran's semi-official Fars news agency reported on Monday that Ashtiani had withdrawn his complaint. Experts familiar with Iranian law said it would mean the cartoonist's conviction
would be quashed.
In response to the artist's sentence, cartoonists launched a campaign of drawing new caricatures of the MP, with many Iranians and their colleagues across the world contributing by posting their cartoons online. The Guardian's
Martin Rowson also contributed by drawing Ashtiani in a nappy with a lash in his mouth.
|10th May |
Government proposes that music, sport and religious videos should be expensively vetted by the BBFC if it is felt
that they would be rated 12 or higher
See article from
See consultation paper [pdf]
As announced in the Queen's Speech, the Department for Culture, Media, Sport and Censorship is seeking views about the exemptions in the Video Recordings Act and about how advertisements shown in cinemas are censored.
Consultation Open date: 09
Closing date: 01 August 2012
Please send your comments or if you have any queries about this consultation to:
or by post:
Advertising and Exemption
Consultation Department for Culture,
Media and Sport
2-4 Cockspur Street
London SW1Y 5DH
Cinema Advertising Censorship
The government is asking whether the BBFC really needs to get involved in the censorship
of cinema adverts. At the moment it is mandatory that the BBFC rate such advertising, but the Government is asking if the more general system of advert censorship provided by CAP and ASA is sufficient.
Option 0: No
Under this option cinema advertisements would continue to be referred to the BBFC for age rating whilst also being subject to mandatory self-regulation overseen by the ASA.
This regime has been
in place for a number of years and it could be considered that it should remain on the grounds that it appears to work effectively to ensure that children are not exposed to inappropriate content via cinema advertisements and consumers' rights are
properly observed. Some may feel also that the statutory backing is an essential element of the regime.
However, as set out earlier in the preceding paragraphs, others may consider that the age rating role provided by the BBFC in
relation to cinema advertisements is already adequately covered by the self-regulatory approach of the industry and that it therefore represents an unnecessary burden on business.
Option 1: Remove the requirement for BBFC
classification of cinema advertisements
This option would potentially remove the financial and administrative burdens on the cinema advertising industry of having to submit each advert to the BBFC for an age rating. Arguably,
this would also make matters simpler for industry, reducing the additional time constraints resulting from both BBFC and CAA clearance.
The BBFC has indicated that the current average classification cost is around £111 per ad
classified. There is an additional administrative burden for industry attached to this process in supplying the BBFC with hard copies of the adverts requiring classification. The impact on the BBFC of removing the classification requirement would simply
relate to their resourcing of this function.
However, could removing the requirement to age rate adverts shown in cinemas by the BBFC result in a reduction in consumer and child protection? The industry bodies and the CAA believe
the existing advertising clearance system as set out in paragraphs 4.6 to 4.23, underpinned by the ASA's non-broadcast advertising code (CAP Code), is robust enough to ensure there are no regulatory gaps, particularly in relation to child protection, and
that suitable consumer safeguards will be maintained.
This option would also not place additional enforcement burdens on local authorities
On music censorship the government is nominally considering 4 options:
option 0: Leave the existing exemptions in place and untouched, on the basis that either the present arrangements do not give rise to concerns to an extent that would justify legislative change, or that removing
exemptions would place unnecessary or disproportionate burdens on industry for limited benefit.
option 1: Remove the exemptions from age rating for music, sports, religious and educational video works. This requires primary
legislation to achieve. Removing the exemption would mean that producers would have to submit all film material to the BBFC for classification before making them available for sale in the UK regardless of genre.
option 2: Lower
the existing content thresholds for exemption so that more products are brought within scope of the age rating requirement (as we have done recently for video games). This can be achieved by secondary legislation.
option 3: Ask
other parts of the video industry to introduce a self-regulatory parental advisory system for the currently exempt genres, similar to the BPI's PAS labelling scheme for the music-themed products.
Option 2 is noted as the
|10th May |
The Queen's Speech heralds a snooping law that the KGB would be proud of
You know that when the government blathers on about safeguards and scrutiny, they only mention this because there won't be any.
article from bigbrotherwatch.org.uk
See also 'Snooper's charter' removed from crime bill in last-minute coalition talks from
America Too: The FBI Wants Mandatory
"Backdoors" to Online Communications Services from decryptedtech.com
My Government intends to bring forward measures to maintain the ability of the law enforcement and intelligence agencies to access vital communications data under strict safeguards to protect the public, subject to scrutiny of draft clauses.
there we have it -- the Communication Capabilities Development Programme will have it's day in Parliament. We don't know what the draft clauses will be or when we will see them, but the Government remains intent on pursuing legislation in the coming
session of Parliament.
The Home Office have been very good at saying what the problem is, but seem intent on keeping the technical details of what they are proposing secret. Is it any wonder that the public are scared by a proposal for online
surveillance not seen in any other Western democracy.
Update: Promises Promises
The Snoopers' Charter : the Communications Data Bill is about to be published by the government.
When the coalition was elected, they promised that:
We will end the storage of internet and email
records without good reason (1)
Nick Clegg added:
We won't hold your internet and email records when there is just no reason to do so. (2)
Now, the government is saying that
companies like Facebook and Google must keep your email and messaging records for 12 months, whether or not you are under suspicion: and that the records (not the content) must be handed over on the say-so of a police officer.
The government are
asking for powers to intercept and collect information about who you talk to online by snooping on your Internet traffic, in case companies based outside the UK don't agree to hand over your information.
That makes us all a suspect. Instead of
being under surveillance when there is evidence of wrongdoing, you will be under suspicion by default.
|10th May |
The Queen's Speech heralds a law to protect freedom of speech and reform the law of defamation
See article from libelreform.org
The Jury's Already Out on the New Bill from spiked-online.com by
As announced in the Queen's Speech, the Government will introduce a law to protect freedom of speech and reform the law of defamation .
The libel reform campaign, nearly 100 organisations and 60,000 supporters including leading names from
science, the arts and public life have been calling for legislation to reform the libel laws since December 2009. Congratulations to all on this momentous stage.
Now we need to see the details of the Bill and will work to ensure the reforms will
do away with unwarranted chilling, bullying effects of the current laws.
Over the coming months, the Libel Reform Campaign will continue to fight for:
- a public interest defence so people can defend themselves unless the claimant can show they have been malicious or reckless.
- a strong test of harm that strikes out claims unless the claimant can demonstrate serious and substantial harm and
they have a real prospect of vindication.
- a restriction on corporations' ability to use the libel laws to silence criticism.
- provisions for online hosts and intermediaries, who are not authors nor traditional publishers.
...Read comments from supporters
Update: Details of Defamation Bill
20th May 2012. See article from
The Bill contains a number of measures of interest to ISPs, including a single publication rule and new defences for hosting providers and
operators of websites with user-generated content.
The single publication rule
Currently, a claim for defamation can be brought up to one year after publication. This limitation is measured from the last time the allegedly defamatory
article was published. However, viewing an article online essentially involves the host transmitting a copy of that article over the Internet, which counts in legal terms as republishing the article. This means that there is, in effect, no time limit for
making a defamation claim against the publisher of an online article, since the law considers the article to be republished every time it is viewed.
The Defamation Bill solves this problem by introducing a single publication rule. If the Bill
becomes law, the limitation period will be measured from the first time an article is published, rather than the last, as long as the manner of a subsequent publication is not materially different from the manner of the first publication .
This should go some way towards placing online content on an equal footing with offline content.
New defences for website operators
Under current defamation law, website operators and hosting providers risk being found liable for
defamation if they refuse to take down content that a court later finds to be defamatory. A blogger could, for example, be held liable for failing to remove a defamatory comment posted by one of her readers, while the ISP that hosts the blog could in
turn be liable for failing to remove defamatory statements posted by the blogger.
The new Defamation Bill provides a weak looking defence in cases where the defamatory contents was posted by someone other than the website operator or host:
5 Operators of websites
It is a defence for the operator to show that it was not the operator who posted the statement on the website. The defence is defeated if the claimant shows
- it was not possible for the claimant to identify the person who posted the statement, the claimant gave the operator a notice of complaint in relation to the statement, and the operator failed to respond to the notice of
complaint in accordance with any provision contained in regulations.
This seems hardly worth having as websites are generally are not in a position to meaningfully identify posters, and so the defence simply will not apply in the vast majority of cases.
|10th May |
Recommended by media industry copyright activists
6th May 2012. Thanks to Nick
article from torrentfreak.com
Last week the UK High Court ruled that several of the country's leading ISPs must block subscriber access to The Pirate Bay. The decision is designed to limit traffic to the world's leading BitTorrent site but in the short-term it had the opposite
effect. Over the last few days The Pirate Bay has had 12 million more visitors daily than it has ever had before.
A site insider told TorrentFreak that this provided a golden opportunity to educate users on how to circumvent blocks: We should
write a thank you letter to the BPI. It's not possible to buy advertising articles from leading UK publications such as the BBC, Guardian and Telegraph, but The Pirate Bay news was spread across all of them and dozens beside, for free.
The news was repeated around the UK, across Europe and around the world reaching millions of people. The results for the site were dramatic.
Another thing that's good with the traffic surge is that we now have time to teach even more people how
to circumvent Internet censorship, the insider added.
Last Friday the UK High Court ruled that several of country's leading ISPs must censor The Pirate Bay website having ruled in February that the site and its users breach copyright on a
grand scale. The blocks, to be implemented by Sky, Everything Everywhere, TalkTalk, O2 and Virgin Media (BT are still considering their position), are designed to cut off all but the most determined file-sharers from the world's most popular torrent
In fact Virgin Media were the first off the blocks and have already started to block the site.
I don't suppose the security services will be very pleased that so many internet users are encouraged to use VPNs and proxies etc. They
will now be looking for needles in much larger haystacks with some of the barn lights going dark.
Update: Seeing Orange
10th May 2012. Thanks to James
As of 9th May, The Pirate Bay has been vetoed by Orange.
Here is a screenshot of what Pirate Bay visitors get to see via Orange.
Absolutely disgusted, a total violation of internet freedom and what it is meant for.
|4th May |
Index on censorship hopeful about including a bill for libel reform in the Queen's Speech. By Kirsty Hughes
article from indexoncensorship.org
|1st May |
UK High Court orders UK ISPs to block Pirate Bay
See article from
The UK High Court has ruled that several ISPs including Sky, Everything Everywhere, TalkTalk, O2 and Virgin Media must censor The Pirate Bay file sharing website.
The blocking process was established in law by the media industry action against the
Newzbin2 Usenet indexing site last year. A few weeks later a conglomerate of music labels filed a lawsuit against several Internet providers, demanding that they block subscriber access to The Pirate Bay.
Nine labels including EMI, Polydor, Sony,
Virgin and Warner said that The Pirate Bay infringes their copyrights and that several ISPs including TalkTalk and Virgin Media should implement a blockade under Section 97A of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act.
In February the High Court
agreed that The Pirate Bay and its users do indeed breach copyright on a major scale, and this decision has now been followed by a court order.
ISPs Sky, Everything Everywhere, TalkTalk, O2 and Virgin Media must censor The Pirate Bay website in
the weeks to come. A sixth ISP, BT, has asked for more time to consider its position.
The Open Rights Group says the court-ordered block represents the thin end of the wedge.
Blocking the Pirate Bay is pointless and dangerous. It will
fuel calls for further, wider and even more drastic calls for Internet censorship of many kinds, from pornography to extremism, ORG Executive Director Jim Killock said: Internet censorship is growing in scope and becoming easier. Yet it never has
the effect desired. It simply turns criminals into heroes.
|30th April |
Recommended by Keith Vaz in yet another parliamentary EDM
See article from
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 is available at
Early day motion 3014: VIOLENT VIDEO GAMES (No. 2)
Primary sponsor: Keith Vaz
That this House is reminded of the consequences of the ineffectual Pan European Game Information (PEGI) classification
system for video games following the testimony of Anders Breivik about the tragic events in Norway in July 2011;
notes that in his submission of evidence to the court Breivik describes how he trained for the attacks using the video game Call of Duty: Modern Warfare ;
is disturbed that Breivik used the game
to help hone his target acquisition and the suggestion that the simulation prepared him for the attacks;
is concerned that PEGI as a classification system can only provide an age-rating and not restrict ultra-violent
content; recognises that in an era of ever-more sophisticated and realistic game-play more robust precautions must be taken before video games are published; and
calls on the Government to provide for closer scrutiny of
aggressive first-person shooter video games.
Bottomley, Peter Conservative Party Worthing West
Hopkins, Kelvin Labour Party Luton North
McDonnell, John Labour Party Hayes and Harlington
Russell, Bob Liberal Democrats Colchester
Vaz, Keith Labour Party Leicester East
|28th April |
Art gallery receives an unwelcome visit from police censors
There were no complaints from the public when a Mayfair gallery exhibited a dramatic modern rendering of the ancient Greek myth of Leda and the swan in its window.
But the censors of the Metropolitan Police took a different view when they spotted
Derrick Santini's photograph of a naked woman being ravished by the bird.
A policeman took exception as he passed the Scream gallery in Bruton Street on a bus. He alerted colleagues and two uniformed policemen from Harrow arrived to demand the
work be removed.
Jag Mehta, sales director at the gallery said: We asked them what the problem was and they said it suggested we condoned bestiality, which they said was an arrestable offence. They stood there and didn't leave until we took the
Thankfully it was the final day of the exhibition when the plods arrived.
It is understood that the incident was not recorded by police as a crime.
|8th April |
Liam Stacey wrote vile things. But do you know why he went to jail? Well, you should. By Victoria Cohen
article from guardian.co.uk
|2nd April |
Council of Europe's commissioner for human rights considers jail to be excessive for an insult on Twitter
See article from
The Swansea student given 56 days in prison for posting racially offensive comments on Twitter should not have been jailed, according to Europe's most senior human rights official.
In an interview the day before he left office, Thomas Hammarberg,
the Council of Europe's commissioner for human rights, said the sentence imposed by British courts on Liam Stacey was excessive.
After six years in his post at Strasbourg, the Swedish official used his departing comments to plead for greater
freedom of expression and to question blanket imposition of traditional media restraints on the internet. Hammarberg told the Guardian:
It was too much. He shouldn't have gone to prison. To put him in prison was wrong.
Politicians are at a bit of loss to know how to ... protect internet freedom while also having regulations against [such problems as] hate speech and child pornography.
There are limits to freedom of
expression but regulators don't know how to handle this. It would be useful to have a more enlightened discussion at a European level, otherwise we are going to have different practices in different countries.
In traditional media
there are editors who are responsible for print content. It's not so easy to have to the same legal procedures when it comes to action [against lone online voices].
People are at a loss to know how to apply rules for the
traditional media to the new media. It's tricky and that's why there needs to be a more thorough discussion about this.
|1st April |
Nominet decisions about abusive domain name claims cannot be challenged in court
The High Court has ruled that decisions made by Nominet's dispute resolution service (DRS) may not be appealed in the courts, in cases concerning accusations of abusive domain name registration.
The court held that the registration contract
did not leave a role for the court, as abusive registration is a term that only has meaning within the context of the Nominet DRS and cannot itself be the cause of legal action before the courts.
The judgement overturns the ruling of the
Patents County Court in a dispute between Michael Toth, who registered the domain name emirates.co.uk in 2002, and the Emirates airline, which later sought and gained possession of the domain name through Nominet's dispute resolution service.
Toth successfully appealed to the Patents County Court for a declaration that the domain name was not registered abusively. However, the case was subsequently appealed in the High Court, which last week ruled that the such cases cannot be appealed in
The DRS and Procedure put in place a regime in which the question of abusive registration is one for, and only for, the Expert appointed under the DRS.